The Little Inmate Who Could: We don't often get involved in political causes, but we simply must speak out against the inhumane treatment of inmates in Arizona's Maricopa County jail, which has begun reading bedtime stories to its prisoners.
According to the Arizona Republic, Sheriff Joe Arpaio is responsible for this barbaric practice. Each night at 10, he appears in a brief video--sitting by a fireplace with a dog at his side--to introduce that evening's author and book. Then a 60- or 90-minute audiotape of the story is broadcast throughout the jail.
What's next? Little mints on the inmates' pillows at night?
I Am the Wal-Mart: Yoko Ono has announced plans to market a line of John Lennon children's clothing, Lennon gift wrap and Lennon bedding emblazoned with doodles he drew for his son Sean.
Lest longtime fans be offended, we should remind them of Lennon's own lyrics: "Imagine no possessions. I wonder if you can. No need for greed or hunger, just some Lennon gift wrap and clothing for your clan. . . . You may say I'm a dreamer, but I'm not the only one. I hope someday you'll buy this stuff at Wal-Mart, and the world will live as one."
News From the Assisted Suicide State: Oregon lawmakers have rejected a proposal to place billboards along the state's borders that say: "You are welcome to visit Oregon, but please don't stay." So the Portland Oregonian sponsored a contest to create other signs that might discourage settlers from California. The winning entries included:
* Welcome to Oregon. So many Californians, so little ammo.
* Welcome to Oreg--I mean, Killer Bee Land! Yeah, that's right. Killer bees! The only state governed and populated by ravenous killer bees.
* Welcome to Oregon. Are you sure you unplugged the iron?
Then again, it might be easier to just cordon off the state with yellow police tape.
Pickle Science Department: As the 20th century draws to a close, scientists have failed in their efforts to produce flying cars, hologram movies and other promised inventions--but they did come through on the Picklevator.
Thus ends our long national nightmare of having to reach into pickle jars to remove the pickles. Thanks to a breakthrough by Dean Foods Co., consumers can now use the Picklevator--which is a plastic basket placed inside Peter Piper's brand pickle jars--to lift pickles out of the brine for easy access.
Weird Tobacco Bureau: The Three Stooges are now the three stogies, thanks to a Glendale company that is introducing a line of Three Stooges cigars.
Danube Blues: So much for our summer vacation plans. Smithsonian Study Tours has canceled a Danube River cruise that included a "stroll through the parks and ramparts" of Belgrade, along with an excursion to the Skadarlija district for "a private performance of exuberant folk dances from all parts of the former Yugoslavia." The itinerary also featured a cafe visit "for Serbian snacks and live music." The trip was advertised as "an opportunity not to be missed," according to the Chicago Sun-Times.
Best Supermarket Tabloid Headline: "Pervert Arrested for Peeping at a Naked Mannequin!" (Weekly World News)
Unpaid Informants: Kenny Noble Cortes, Wireless Flash News Service, PR Newswire. Off-Kilter's e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org. Off-Kilter runs Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.